Thursday, November 19, 2009

Arrival in McMurdo

Three BARREL team members (Max Comess, David McGaw, and Robyn Millan) arrived in McMurdo on Tuesday, Nov. 17 after a one-day delay in Christchurch, New Zealand. We spent the rest of Tuesday getting our dorm room assignments, picking up linens, picking up our checked luggage, and attending an outdoor safety briefing. 

On Wednesday, we went out to our work site - the "LDB site" near Williams Field. It is located on the permanent ice shelf, about 10 km from McMurdo. Things are a bit different compared to my last trip to the ice (1999/2000). The LDB facility includes two huge new payload buildings (right).  The old "pig barn" where we used to prepare payloads for launch is now almost completely buried. There is also a new galley and we have our own chef. The food is fantastic!
     Our work area is located on the mezzanine in one of the payload buildings. Yesterday, we unpacked and set up our workspace (right) and managed to get halfway through testing of payload 1.  Not bad for the first day!

But...this is Antarctica! Today, we are stuck in McMurdo town (which is why I had time to write this blog!) There are really high winds here, and especially out on the ice shelf. They have called "Condition 2" which means wind speeds of 48-55 knots, wind chills of –75F to –100F, OR visibility of less than 1/4 of a mile. Hopefully the winds will let up soon so we can get back to work!

- Posted by Robyn
(pictures by David McGaw)